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Super Potato in Akihabara
As is typical of me, I played a ton of video games this year. Here’s a listing of what I played along with a few short (or long) words on each game. For the most part, this list is restricted to games released in 2010 unless I did not play them until this year. It’s also mostly in chronological order, with some skips here and there.
Mother 3: Definitely did not come out in 2010. I reviewed it already, but let me say that there is significant beauty to this game. Affecting and heartwrenching, this is easily among the best games I played this year. Do not play this on an emulator because the music-timing of the battles is deliciously fun and the time lag of emulation makes that impossible to experience.
Mass Effect 2: The first AAA game of the year. My review trended toward disappointing, mostly due to the way that story was handled in this iteration compared to part 1. Still, an undeniably great game whose heist-story mechanics and plot are unique and interesting in the gaming landscape. I can’t wait for part three in November.
Heavy Rain: Almost as exciting as actually doing the chores your imaginary wife forces you to do in real life. The execution just missed with this one and its plot twist was asinine and felt cheap. If you’re allowed to hear the thoughts of the protagonists, but you fail to provide a logical reason as to why that person is lying to us (himself?), you’ve lost me.
Pro Yakyu Spirits 2010 (Professional Baseball Spirits 2010): My baseball game of the year. I love taking the Carp to the Japan Series each year. I spent countless hours developing my franchise. This game was worth every dollar I spent importing it.
Final Fantasy XIII: Thoroughly disappointing. Expect more from me on this (edits from the future!), but SqueEnix really dropped the ball something fierce here. A game that suffered from complete lack of creative direction. Final Fantasy XIII is the head of the snake eating its own tail that has become SqueEnix.
Yakuza (1, 2, )3: Did not put that much time into this one, but I did play its prequels to completion. Fiercely Japanese in design, I just haven’t found the time to get deep into this gem. I’m sure it’s actually pretty great.
Mega Man 10: It lacked some of MM9′s magic (partially by being easier), but still a razor sharp example of why the Blue Bomber captured our hearts in the first place. Pump Man’s power, while heavily reminiscent of Leaf Man, is deliciously fun to play with. Using it again Solar Man was also tons of fun for me.
Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilve: It was fun to go back to the best two games in the series. The Pokewalker was stupid, but I have high hopes for Black & White. These games are easily dismissed as rehashes, but they’re still white-hot proof that JRPG design doesn’t have to be needlessly complex to be addictive and elegant.
Alien Swarm: Valve gave me this game for free. I played it maybe twice. Decent fun, but I’d rather play Left 4 Dead 2.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey: Never beat this game. SMT continues to be ridiculously tough and legitimately mature in their presentation of mankind’s eternal struggles against its darker tendencies. Maybe it’s the first-person dungeon crawling, but something about this game prevents me from ever picking it up most days.
Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse: I’m lumping all five episodes into one entity. I find TellTale adventure games to be workmanlike in quality. With the exception of the last two or three episodes of Tales of Monkey Island, they lack the extra oomph that could make them truly great. That said, The Devil’s Playhouse was the most hilarious Sam & Max iteration yet. From Sam & Max’s insistence on pronouncing General Skun’kape as skunk-ape to their episode-wide fight over what to call the menacing Sam clones (Samulacra or Doggleganger?), these games were absolute riots. Now if only TellTale could figure out how to make them great games as well…
Monster Hunter Tri: One gaming session. The sword swipes pack so much friction it’s beautiful. Despite this, never picked it up again. Got a sick black classic controller out of it. Now if only I played Wii more often…
Super Street Fighter IV: Played the hell out of last year’s iteration. Opted to play other games since it was structurally similar to vanilla Street Fighter IV. Kind of wish I’d played it a lot more this year.
Green Day: Rock Band: Played it once, exported the tracks to Rock Band 2/3, never felt the need to boot it up again. Despite only 1 hour of playtime, unlocked an achievement. Fixing the ‘D’ rank that came as a result on Giant Bomb is the only reason I will ever boot this up again.
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies: Practically perfect in almost every way that a JRPG should be. I understand why the story was left more generic than years past, but the lack of an interesting narrative is what kept me from finishing.
DeathSpank: Played the demo once. Bought it on PC to support Ron Gilbert. Might actually play it one day. It seemed funny.
Comic Jumper: Hilarious in a juvenile way, I slogged through the repetitive, mediocre gameplay just to see more of this game. I think Min “played” this the right way. He watched me beat it and got to enjoy the presentation without having to touch a controller.
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty: Am I the only person who hates what they did at the end of this story? Sure, it has legitimately far-reaching consequences for the sequel, but I think they’re also legitimately less interesting. Still, as perfectly constructed a game as they come. I fell out of playing it, but it definitely feels like I could pick it up at any time and have fun with it.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game: A loving tribute to River City Ransom wrapped up in a franchise that I really enjoy. Sounds like a recipe for success to me. Loads of fun, but, like most middling brawlers, starts to wear on you toward the end as there’s not enough variety introduced in later levels.
Worms: Reloaded: Love Worms. Loaded this up once and never did it again. I’ve hated all Worms interfaces since Worms 2, mostly because they obfuscate and hide customization options more and more as they transition toward console friendliness. I wish they’d put more effort into their PC version.
Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, Dead Rising 2, and Dead Rising 2: Case West: I’ll lump these all together since they are mostly the same game spread out into chunks. The prologue and epilogue (Zero and West, respectively) are just small and feature-gimped enough that they lack the oomph of the full retail release. Dead Rising 2 itself was everything I wanted it to be. A more robust co-op system would be all it needed to be top tier, but I still had loads of fun with it. As a bonus, Min and Dead Rising 2 taught me how to play Texas Hold ‘Em this year.
Civilization V: You probably saw my review where I hated on the terrible AI. I haven’t played since they patched/fixed it, but if they did it right, this game could totally fall back within my good graces. I do sincerely love this game, it’s just not what I hoped it would be and, in its present form, not as good as IV.
Rock Band 3: Harmonix went and made a perfect Rock Band game. Now all I’ve got to do is get my hands on a pro-guitar and I might actually learn something practical from a game that lets me indulge in all my favorite music.
Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale: Ever wanted to run a JRPG item shop? This indie game translated from Japan is charming and fun, but I haven’t had the time to devote myself to it yet in 2010.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West: So good until the end. Can a stupid ending mar an otherwise good game? Yeah, kinda. I still loved it for the great acting (weird to say, right?), but stupid ending + sub-Uncharted 2 traversal-style gameplay mires this one in the mediocre bin. The fighting system could also have used a little less frame-lock in its animations (is that what this is called?). Can’t count how many times I died because I was stuck in a seconds-long super attack aimed at the air.
Kirby’s Epic Yarn: Unparalleled artistic vision ties this game together. I haven’t put too much time in, but it seems super easy. I want to play with a friend to get the most out of this. What do you say, Min?
Super Meat Boy: Juxtaposing Kirby and Super Meat Boy is wrong on so many levels. One is like chamber music. Beautiful, complex, but not so complex it’s tough to listen to. The other is kick-you-in-the-teeth, bite off a squirrel head, make you a man heavy metal. Super Meat Boy is so deliciously crunchy in every way that it might be the best game game on this list. Where Starcraft II is perfect with a Beatles-type polish, Super Meat Boy is The Clash; unabashedly punk rock. I love this game. It’s so addictive and fun.
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX: Did I say Super Meat Boy was perfect? Pac-Man CE DX (PMCEDX) is video gaming distilled to its primal essence. Eat a whole train of 30 ghosts and I dare you not to feel primitive fun stir deep within you. Words cannot express how great this game is in bite-sized chunks.
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge: Is it cheating to count a re-release? This is probably the greatest adventure game ever now with a commentary track recorded by the big three: Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman, and Tim Schafer.
Poker Night at the Inventory: Strong Bad is unbelievably annoying, but banter between Max, Heavy Weapons Guy, and Tycho are always a joy. The second half of this year’s poker lessons were learned here. Now if only I could get straight flush and four-of-a-kind hands so that I can 100% the achievements in this game!
Back to the Future: The Game: The voice acting and atmosphere in this game are both spot on. Unfortunately I hit a game breaking bug and had to start over. That sucked.
Limbo: First played this on 31 December, so it still counts. Deeply atmospheric, but darkly disturbing and difficult for me to stomach more than once a day. I want to go more into that in another post. Unfortunately for the game, I think the controls are a touch floaty, which I mostly find frustrating because I need to beat it dying fewer than 5 times for an achievement.
And that was 2010 in video games (for me). I missed some huge ones (Super Mario Galaxy 2, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, Call of Duty: Black Ops), but I think I got a good spread in there. Here’s to another great year in gaming for 2011.
This guy is rocking a sick happi. I wish I had one too.
Three days in Sapporo. One to fly in, one to catch a game, and one to fly out. We really only needed two, but the remote location and the unpredictability of flights and baseball game lengths warrant three. It’s a real shame too, because if we had rolled our arrival date into our baseball watching day, we would have seen Yu Darvish pitch.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that not getting to see Darvish pitch was the biggest disappointment I suffered the whole trip. Who wouldn’t want to see one of the best pitchers in the world toss a sweet victory after coming off the disabled list?
Disappointment aside, we had a whole day ahead of us before the game was set to start, so I decided to explore downtown Sapporo.
My usual procedure when I explore a downtown is to first head into any electronics store I can find to start off with something familiar. After seeing the many copies of Japanese MLB Power Pros littering the store shelves around me, I was getting antsy and seriously considering buying a Japanese Wii just to play the games. Thankfully, better judgment prevailed, since spending $250 just to play a $50 game is a little on the extreme side (the Wii also dropped in price by $50 after I left, I would have been super mad for overpaying).
Instead, I decided to go with the easy option and just pick up a copy of Professional Baseball Spirits 6 (or Pro Yakyū Spirits 6, depending on your source) a PS3 NPB baseball game since the PS3 is not region locked like the Wii. I also picked up some Sambomaster music, but that was the extent of my electronics store purchasing.
Maybe it's just me, but I find Japanese electronics stores very intimidating. There are tons of products crammed into small spaces and lots of bright colors (usually red, but blue in this case) advertising things I can't read.
Since I was in Sapporo Station already, I thought I would check out the Sapporo Pokemon Center to see what it was like.
A classy logo for the store. BONUS: Who's that Pokemon?!
It was what you might expect, just wall-to-wall Pokemon paraphernalia meant to lighten your wallets with cute plush Pikachu toys. The cool thing about the store was that, just like how the Nintendo Store in NYC is always stocked with Wiis, the Pokemon Center always has copies of Pokemon games, including the recently released Heart Gold and Soul Silver that were sold out everywhere else in Japan (believe me, I checked). They also had some pretty neat limited edition Nintendo DS consoles for sale that I didn’t buy.
Each Pokemon Center Emblem features Pikachu and two other, unique Pokemon.
My Pokemon curiosity was sated, but it was time to grab a bite to eat. I went upstairs in the shopping center (the interesting thing about all Japanese department stores/shopping centers/malls is that they almost always have restaurants on the top floor) and sat down in a place that advertised English menus. The tonkatsu set I ordered came with rice covered with a sweet, but unpleasant (due to temperature differences) yam layer on top of it and miso soup and it was a pretty good meal.
On a scale of 1-10 I'd rate it pretty good.
At the table with me was a man who spoke some English, so he took the opportunity to talk to me a bit. When I told him that I was in Japan to watch baseball, he brought up that Ichiro had just successfully hit his 200th hit in a season for nine straight seasons. I agreed with him that it was huge news, but I didn’t agree so much with his assurance that it wasn’t a big deal in the states. Sure, it was a MUCH bigger deal for the Japanese to have a player from their country break a longstanding American MLB record, but we didn’t exactly trivialize it, did we? (I guess we kind of did…? Did any of you even know about this before now?)
With hunger no longer an issue, my next task was to shop around and find some more souvenirs. I knew that one of my friends wanted a bento box and another a sake set, so I wandered down into the basement of the building I had just had lunch in and came upon a Seibu Loft store. Bob suggested to me that the best place to find a bento would be a department store, since a specialty store would just overcharge, so I wandered up to the cookware floor and eventually spotted the large bento area.
There were tons to choose from, from small, cute ones with pandas on them to more serious, spartan affairs with dark, muted colors. Many of them even had chopsticks to match their color schemes. I found a simple pastel colored box with matching chopsticks and continued my hunt for the sake set.
Before I found the sake glasses, I came across some sweet chopsticks.
Owning a set of Carp chopsticks would be so awesome, but...
That’s right, NPB-themed chopsticks, a set for every team. My mind rushed as I thought about the gift possibilities. I wanted a set, of course, but would Eric appreciate them? He’s certainly got a ton of chopsticks already and no love for NPB teams…hey, waitaminute! That’s right, each set of chopsticks cost ¥1365 (¥1300 + 5% consumption tax for those of you astute readers who noticed the smaller number on the price tag below the actual price). It was far too much to pay for chopsticks, no matter how cool it would be to have the Carp represented on them. I really have no idea why they’re so expensive, but perhaps the label on the back of the sticks, representing the life cycle of these chopsticks might be an illustration of the reason they’re so expensive.
From the dirt to the hands of the ballplayer, then straight to your hands!
If this cute little cycle on the back of the packaging is meant to be accurate, then these chopsticks come from broken bats used in NPB games. That’s a big if! Beyond that, it’s still a huge ripoff to pay so much for one pair of sticks.
I found a nice sake set, paid for my goods, and wandered around Sapporo for a bit before heading home. On the way home, I noticed a nice park on the right. It seemed to be populated by a bunch of employees on breaks, which looked like an awesome idea. If I had the ability to eat a nice lunch or take a quick break outside my building in a park, I think I’d totally be on top of that.
They've got to enjoy it while they can. Cooler weather was already hitting Sapporo when I was there.
Another neat thing I noticed on the way back was that Sapporo seemed to have more bicycle traffic than any other city I’d seen in Japan. Almost every sidewalk in the city that allowed it was filled with the bicycles of the many employees who rode to work that day. It seemed like most of them were unlocked too, which seemed mighty trusting, but that’s Japan for you, I guess.
After a quick stopover at the hotel, it was time to head out to the Sapporo Dome for the evening’s game. The route was fairly simple: take the subway, switch lines, get off, and follow the crowds to the dome. It was a cakewalk and it would have been a nice walk, if it weren’t for the rain.
Dan and I were in the stop for the Sapporo Dome, but it's still a 10 minute walk to the dome from here.
After getting thoroughly soaked (man am I glad I brought my jacket with me), we eventually saw the Sapporo Dome in the distance. Let’s just say it’s got a rather bizarre façade and leave it at that.
It looks like a UFO or a giant metal space slug or something...
I popped into the gift shop to get myself a Yu Darvish Fighters jersey (I got the gray Away jerseys because they say “Nippon-Ham” on them instead of “Fighters”) and look around. The store also had a great shirt that had some baseball terms written in both English and Japanese in red text on a black shirt. I decided I must have one, so I got one.
The best shot of the field I've got. Lighting in the Sapporo Dome is such that it's difficult to get a good picture that isn't ruined by the super strong lights.
Entering the Dome was much more pleasant than the Tokyo Dome. My ears didn’t pop and the temperature inside was well below the 80s. In fact, it was borderline chilly inside the stadium, but that might have been due to the water evaporating off of my clothing.
One of the stadium's employees.
Since the Sapporo Dome houses more than one sport and team, its concessions and facilities don’t completely reflect the Fighters. There are plenty of signs, but nothing is themed. The place feels a lot like a gigantic airplane hangar that someone decided to play baseball inside. The corridors are unnecessarily huge and sparse, making the place feel cavernous, empty, and dark, but the field itself is very well lit and rather nice despite all the aesthetic issues with its corridors.
Remember how sparse the Fighters cheering section was at that Lions game? This dwarfs it many times over.
If there was one major area that I’d say the Fighters suffer, it’s that the team is too remote. Like the Hawks, they’re the only team on their island, but unlike the Hawks, you can’t get to Sapporo via train. It’s plane or nothing, so when the team travels, it’s much harder for a dedicated cheer section to follow. Conversely, it’s a lot harder for a team to represent its own colors in Sapporo. One would have to wonder how high attendance would be if the Fighters were a Central League team and they played the Tigers. It seems like Tigers fans flood any ballpark that their team is at, but would they go all the way to Sapporo to prove their dedication?
My first time using a set of thunder sticks or spirit sticks or whatever you're supposed to call them.
This game marked the first time I got my hands on thunder sticks (or spirit sticks or whatever you’re supposed to call them), which was a lot of fun. Clapping isn’t difficult, but it does wear on your hands if you’ve got to do it all game. The sticks do a great job of projecting noise and protecting hands, which is probably why they became so popular. I would love for them to catch on in the states, if for no other reason than that I hate seeing people swing towels around like idiots to be like the Steelers fans.
This dude was posing in the stands before the game. I snapped a shot before he (she?) noticed me and threw up a peace sign.
In the end, the Fighters won 5-2 and great fun was had by all. We had a flight to catch in the morning, so I wasn’t really interested in going out and getting crazy, so we went back to the hotel and turned in for the night.
A presser celebrating the Fighters victory.
It won’t be the first time I arrive in the Land of the Rising Sun and it probably won’t be the last, but at least it’s all for fun this time. My last journey into Japan took me to Okinawa, an island paradise where I found myself snorkeling and enjoying the beauty of the landscape whenever I was off the clock, but this time I’ll be diving headfirst into three of the four main islands: Honshū, Kyūshū, and Hokkaidō to get a real glimpse of Japan more separate from the US-heavy Okinawa.
Speaking of US-influence, as I write this I’m chowing down on some “Asian” food from the cafeteria and I think this is the perfect way to start my trip. If there’s one thing that America is known for, it’s embracing and adapting the differences of other cultures into the American identity (your mileage may vary, depending on what part of the USA you live in). It’s a side effect of the vastly different ethnic composition of our population slowly integrating into society, etc., etc., but this isn’t an American sociology lesson, so you get my point.
Now, if there’s one thing that Japan is known for, it’s embracing and adapting the things that America does and doing it better. There’s a reason why so much fear existed in the 80′s with respect to the rising industrial power of Japan. Everything about the country just seems like a more intense, slightly odd version of America to the outside. Employees work longer hours, students study harder, the fashion is crazier, and the obsessive obsess harder than anyone here in the states seems to. Watch any half hour of Japanese media, and you’re bound to hear someone yell “Ganbare!” enthusiastically to someone who is working hard. It means something like “keep going,” “hang in there,” or “fight” and it exemplifies to me how much the Japanese value doing one’s best and making the most of what they’ve got. I don’t think the Japanese are trying to out-America America; I think they are instead trying to infuse the Yamato spirit into everything they do, no matter where it comes from so that at the end of the day, when they come home exhausted and feel like they can’t go on anymore, someone will tell them to ganbare.
My trip to Japan is, ostensibly, to watch baseball, the Great American Pastime (TM), but I’m more interested in what turned baseball into yakyū. My father once read that if you were to tell a Japanese child that there were McDonald’s restaurants in America, that child would say something like “Wow, they’ve got those there too?” The point being that it is such an ingrained part of their culture that it doesn’t compute that something so Japanese could actually be foreign. I expect seeing baseball in Japan will evoke a similar reaction in me as I marvel at how the game can be so different and exactly the same while retaining a distinctly Yamato flair. Surely no adult Japanese person would think that the game originated on the island, but will they think that they’ve perhaps mastered the purest, best way to play the game?
Really though, that’s enough of all the serious talk, I’m not writing a paper here and I’m sure I’ve bored half of you to death already. Here are some questions (in no particular order) that I hope to get answers to on this trip out to the far east:
1. What do they do during the 7th inning stretch out here?
2. What kinds of crazy foods do they serve at the concession stands?
3. Just how rowdy do the fans get during games?
4. How different is it to fly internationally on a Japanese carrier compared to a domestic carrier?
5. Do cities outside Tokyo get crazy during game releases? At least one major game franchise (Pokémon) will have an iteration released while I’m out, but I won’t be in Tokyo when it comes out.
6. How rock and roll do the Japanese get? If I can, I’m going to try and make it into a show somewhere.
7. Is the fashion at Harajuku as crazy as everyone says it is?
8. Sumo. Great sport or greatest sport?
9. Is Akihabara still the mecca of electronics that it once was?
10. How much cool stuff can I find in a used game store?
11. Is Coco Curry House Ichinbanya still amazing?
12. How long can Dave and I sing in a karaoke box before we’re kicked out to salvage what’s left of the clientele’s hearing?
13. Do I have the nerve to go to a public bath?
14. Is the Japanese train system as punctual and efficient as advertised?
15. What’s the strangest item I can find in a vending machine?
16. Are Japanese arcades really dying?
I’m sure I’ll think of more along the way, but I think this is a good start for now. To those of you out there working hard while I embark upon my expedition into Japanese culture, I have but one word: GANBARE!
EDIT: Now that this travel feature is complete, I thought I’d add a table of contents to help you navigate around.
Part I – Preface
Part II – Journey to the East
Part III – Play Ball!
Part IV – In Which Our Heroes Depart Tokyo for Kyoto
Part V – Temples, Taxis, and the (Hiroshima) Toyo Carp
Part VI – Baseball Off-Day
Part VII – i believe lions
Part VIII – Tokyo Drift
Part IX – It’s a Small World
Part X – Boredom on the Orient Express
Part XI – “That’s my wife. You no touch.”
Part XII – The Curse of the Colonel
Part XIII – Beware the Ninth Ward
Part XIV – The One Where We Miss Darvish
Part XV – Someone’s Got To Be The Worst
Part XVI – Unstoppable Force, Meet Immovable Object
Part XVII – In Which Our Hero Casually Greets Professional Players
Part XVIII – Homeward Bound
Part XIX – Epilogue
Bonus: Jersey Special
Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.
July was an interesting month for sales. It seems that if your name wasn’t EA or Nintendo, you didn’t even crack the top ten list for game sales. In fact, Nintendo’s month of dominance is even more astounding when you consider that the top sellers included New Super Mario Bros. and Mario Kart DS, games well past their prime. This tough economy is making it rough to be anyone but Nintendo, but I’m sure that the holiday season will bring other games to the forefront. There’s lots of good stuff in the pipe.
Speaking of dominance…
Pokémon Platinum launched about a year ago in Japan (September 2008). As of right now, lifetime, worldwide sales of that title have reached 5.66 million. That’s a lot of pokémon. Even more ridiculous are the lifetime sales figures for the franchise, which stand at 193 million units. It’s astounding to see just how well this series has done.
Expect that 193 million to increase by two come spring 2010, since Nintendo has announced that HeartGold and SoulSilver will be launching then. I’m a sucker for catching them all, so I’ll be picking both copies up, probably in the mail to spare myself some embarrassment at the store.
My most recent WoW relapse occurred around the launch of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. I can safely say that I’ve been cured of the need to grind in Azeroth, but that doesn’t mean I’m disinterested in rumors pertaining to the game’s expansions. While we’ll probably get most of this confirmed or denied at this weekend’s Blizzcon, there’s no harm in talking about proposed changes.
It’s MMO 101 to raise a level cap and open up classes to races to loosen restrictions and bring in more players and it’s MMO 201 to add in new races, so you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that the level cap will supposedly be 85, classes will be available to more races, and there are rumors that the Worgen and the Goblins will become the next playable races, but it’s most surprising to me to hear that they might remake classic Azeroth. That would be a monumental undertaking and it would seriously alter the way that people play the game to start. It would be cool to see them shake things up a bit.
I’ve also heard they’re buffing Onyxia so she’s less of a joke. Good on you Blizz.
While we’re talking about Blizzard, the Starcraft II LAN petition has reached 100,000 signatures. Unfortunately, 99,000 of those people (maybe more) will still buy the game when it launches, regardless of this petition. My guess is that Blizzard still doesn’t care. With how much money WoW makes them, they can easily shrug off a few lost purchases.
Everyone loves when a company starts to talk price changes. Who wants to spend so much money on those consoles, right? I’m sure that the UK was thinking it was a good day when they heard that they were going to be changes to the MSRP of the 360, but it turns out that Microsoft is raising the price. By £30. That’s about $50.
Sorry England, I don’t know why M$ is treating you so poorly. I still like you guys.
Phoenix Wright is getting an UDON art book! Those guys are responsible for the fantastic Street Fighter comics and the new sprites in the HD Turbo Remix and they do fine work.
You can see images from the book here.
It’s hardly scientific, but a Game Informer magazine survey suggests that the hardware failure rate for Xbox 360s over their lifetime has been over 50% (54.2%). This was revealed based on a survey of 5,000 of their readers and it’s kind of alarming. To be fair, the new hardware boards are supposed to have fixed this, but it’s still at a highly unacceptable level.
Also unacceptable, Microsoft is planning on cutting HDMI and component cables out of their packaging, forcing users to buy cables that used to come bundled. Thanks for being cheapskates guys, but I guess the economy’s pretty bad right now, so I can’t complain too much.
I think it’s fair to say that I love the Persona series. A lot. I love seeing new games in the series announced and I’d love to see a remake of Persona 2 (both games). That’s what makes the announcement of a PSP version of P3 so strange. That game came out nearly two years ago and it’s getting a remake that allows the player to play as a female? More details as they become available, but I think I’m just bitter because I don’t have a PSP.
The Real Slim
After months of leaks and speculation, Sony finally confirmed the PS3 Slim at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. The new hardware SKU will replace the older hardware and retail at $300 with some slight changes.
There will no longer be a power switch on the back and the power and eject buttons will be actual buttons instead of whatever tech they had there before, the system is obviously slimmer and smaller, there are only two USB ports, no media card slots, a new, faster disk drive, and, unfortunately, no custom OS (no Linux!), and no backwards compatibility.
Still, it’s a great deal for a blu-ray player and a fine system for gaming. Good to know it’s for real.
There you have it, the biggest news (to me) of the week. To those of you keeping score at home, yes, this is the first week I’ve gone without a Left 4 Dead 2-related story since forever ago and I’m devastated about it.
If you’re trying to find the common thread that weaves all of these games together, don’t keep racking your brain, I’m just covering a ton of different stories and experiences.
Tangled Up in Blue
Street Fighter IV created within me something of a fighting game…well I hesitate to call it a renaissance, cause there was never a naissance, so to speak, but, should naissance actually be French for birth, it did birth in me the fighting spirit. I haven’t played the game in a while, mostly because I’m trying to save the world and attend high school (Persona 4) at the same time, but I figure I’ll get back to it soon, especially with that new tournament mode in.
The reason I even bring that up is because of the upcoming game BlazBlue has got a pretty sweet pre-order bundle set to launch alongside the game. Buying the game early, at no added cost, will yield soundtrack CDs and, my favorite feature, a DVD with top players going over the moves and strategies for each fighter.
Being the fighting game newb that I am, I find this kind of thing to be an invaluable help in creating strategies and managing opponents. I just hope it’s not too high level that I can’t understand or implement the things they’re doing. It should also help me to find the most bizarre, obscure character to master. I don’t always go for the strangest guy, but I definitely make an effort to try and choose lesser-used characters in fighting games mostly because I tire of seeing Ken all the time.
Staying on track with fighting games, the two extra King of Fighters XII home version fighters were announced and they…don’t include Mai?! There’s still time to announce Mai in the game, but the release date is rapidly approaching. Why they didn’t have her in the arcade release baffles me in the first place, but why they’re not including the absolute fan favorite in the home version absolutely blows my mind. We’ll see how this continues to play out.
Oh yeah, the new fighters are Elizabeth and Mature. Stupid name on that second one, if you ask me.
Stats 4 Me
If you know me decently well, then you know that I love stats. Very few things excite me more than seeing a nice, clean breakdown of how I did in certain aspects and how I fare against certain situations or match-ups, etc. It’s why I hate the stats section of SFIV (Why don’t they have stats for how I perform against each character as each character? Why don’t they have stats for each opponent I face?) and of SSBB (Actually, kind of the same things here.)
Leave it to Valve to satisfy my every craving with the detailed Left 4 Dead stats page that you can check for any player. Where else would you be able to see that I have 100% accuracy with an assault rifle or that my favorite Tier 2 weapon is the hunting rifle?
Can’t say “Screenshot or it didn’t happen” anymore, can you?
Granted, these stats were collected a few weeks (months?) after the game came out, so I probably don’t really have 384 Assault Rifle kills or 100% accuracy, but you can bet I probably won’t pick up an assault rifle again for a long while until I’m sick of looking at that sweet 100% mark.
It’s interesting too that my Zoey count is so low (only 55%) considering that I always prefer to play as her. I blame quick games, where my character choice is not left up to me.
Oh yeah, here’s a link to my stats page.
Stats I will be working on:
-Increase revive:revived ratio (currently 1:2)
-Improve finales survived (sitting at 12.5% right now)
-Drop average damage to teammates (this one ballooned after I spent a whole game on easy shooting my partner for fun)
-The fact that I’ve only shot one cartridge with the pump shotgun makes me laugh. So long as I’m never Francis or Bill, I doubt that number will increase too much.
-Want to know why my hunting rifle headshot rate is only 5%? It’s not cause I suck zoomed in, it’s cause zombies die in one hit with the hunting rifle, so why aim for a small target? Don’t expect that to rise.
-More versus! The new maps are out. I need to play them. I need to have a more lopsided (in the wins direction) record.
-I should throw more rocks as the tank.
-More survival mode medals. I need more!
Darek’s got more friends playing, so I should be able to find people to continue to play with and keep improving. I’m excited.
Gotta Catch ‘Em Again
Nintendo announced today (but in the Japanese today, which is still going on, but at 2230 or so right now) that they would be re-releasing Pokémon Gold and Silver as Pokémon Heart Gold and Pokémon Soul Silver on the DS Generation IV engine. Exciting news for Pokémaniacs, since Gold and Silver were perhaps the longest, and neatest games. Not only did you go through the new region in those games, but your quest actually required you to return to the original region and collect all those badges too. With one fell swoop, the geniuses at Nintendo have managed to bring all of the regions, minus the Gen III region into the future. It’s an exciting time for someone who wants to catch ‘em all, but we’re all wondering out here in the West when Nintendo is finally gonna get around to letting us import our Platinum dudes into Pokémon Ranch, much less our new Gold and Silver buddies.
“You must be a master of sales”
If you got the obscure and kind of lame Resident Evil reference there, go you. For everyone else, let’s move on.
Capcom has released a listing of its top-selling game franchises to give you an idea of how well its game series sell and are popular relative to each other. Here’s the list:
Resident Evil – 40 million (56)
Mega Man – 28 million (124!)
Street Fighter – 27 million (62)
Devil May Cry – 10 million (11)
Monster Hunter – 8.5 million (11)
Onimusha – 7.8 million (12)
Dino Crisis – 4.4 million (13)
Ghosts ‘N Goblins – 4.4 million (16)
Final Fight – 3.2 million (10)
Ace Attorney – 3.2 million (12)
Breath of Fire – 3 million (15)
Lost Planet – 2.7 million (7)
Commando – 1.2 million (2)
1942 – 1.2 million (3)
Sengoku BASARA – 1.2 million (10)
Note that there are numbers in parentheses. This is the number of games released in that series, which gives me a great idea. You see, this list, in and of itself, does not accurately represent how well each game performs on a per-game basis. It’s not really accurate to say “Wow, Mega Man is way better than Street Fighter” when Mega Man has had 124 releases to SF’s 62 and only outperforms it by one million. Here’s the adjusted list in sales per game:
Devil May Cry – 909091
Monster Hunter – 772727
Resident Evil – 714286
Onimusha – 650000
Commando – 600000
Street Fighter – 435484
1942 – 400000
Lost Planet – 385714
Dino Crisis – 338462
Final Fight – 320000
Ghosts N’ Goblins – 275000
Ace Attorney – 266667
Mega Man – 225806
Breath of Fire – 200000
Sengoku BASARA – 120000
What does my expert analysis show? Well the top three series are all more modern A-list Capcom games. Games have become far more serious business in recent years, so this makes sense. Expensive games plus the increased numbers of buyers make these franchises more successful. The most glaring change in this list is the move of Mega Man to the near bottom of the list. What else can you expect from a series that got its start on the NES and has released 124 (!) games, many of which are portable or spin-offs not meant to sell. In fact, the last real Mega Man release was Mega Man 9 and that was released digitally.
This list really doesn’t prove anything, but it’s at least fun to look at.